Guar Farmers Caught in a Futures Market Gambit

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | October 9, 2012

Thousands of guar farmers in India are today caught in a vicious cycle fuelled by the spectacular rise in the prices of guar seed and guar gum products during the six months period between October 2011 and March 2012.  The prices of guar seed (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba) and guar gum (extracted from guar seed) rose over 900 percent in the futures markets during this period largely due to speculative buying (coupled with market manipulation through circular trading, cross deals and other market abusive practices) by big traders and non-commercial players. The rally in the prices came to an end when Forward Markets Commission (FMC), the…

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Treaties that Gave Away the Store

By Kavaljit Singh | Op-Ed, The Hindu | April 27, 2012

As India grapples with the Vodafone and 2G fallout, the Bilateral Investment Treaties it signed a few years ago are coming back to haunt it. On April 17, British telecom giant Vodafone issued a notice of dispute to the Indian government, as a first step towards launching investment arbitration proceedings under the India-Netherlands Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) signed in 1995.

The telecom company filed the notice through its Dutch subsidiary, Vodafone International Holdings BV, asking the Indian government to abandon or suitably amend the retrospective aspects of the proposed tax legislation under Finance Bill 2012 which allows tax authorities to reopen cases as far back as…

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Sistema Threatens to Invoke Bilateral Investment Treaty

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | February 29, 2012

On 28th February, Russian conglomerate Sistema JSFC sent a formal notice to Republic of India threatening international arbitration proceedings under the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) if the government fails to settle the dispute related to revocation of its 21 telecom licences in an amicable way within six months.

“Sistema believes that the cancellation of SSTL’s licences following Sistema’s investment of billions of dollars into the Indian cellular sector is contrary to India’s obligations under the BIT, including obligations to provide investments with full protection and security and obligations not to expropriate investments. If the dispute is not amicably resolved by August 28, 2012, Sistema reserves the…

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For a Fair, Free Trade Pact with Europe

By Kavaljit Singh | Op-Ed, The Hindu | February 9, 2012

Since 2007, India and the European Union have been negotiating a comprehensive free trade agreement — officially known as Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) — covering trade in goods and services besides rules pertaining to cross-border investments, competition policy, government procurement and state aid.

This legally binding agreement would cover almost a fifth of the world population and, therefore, it impact and implications (both positive and negative) would be significant. Several difficult issues need to be resolved if India is not to be short-changed in the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement with the EU.  Despite 14 rounds of formal negotiations, the finalisation of the BTIA has been…

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FDI Policy in Multi-brand Retail Favors the Big Multinationals

By Shekar Swamy | Commentary | December 6, 2011

On 24 November 2011, the Indian government approved 51 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail stores and 100 percent in single brand outlets in its $450 billion retail market.

The decision was met with a howl of protest from allies and opposition alike. Even several sections of the ruling Congress party have also expressed their reservation against the policy announcement. The country has not witnessed such a polarized view on foreign investment policy in the last two decades.

Aligned in favor of FDI in retail are the sections of ruling establishment, policymakers, big foreign retailers, Indian corporate houses, well-heeled consumers, neoliberal think-tanks and the media….

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